Why do student assessments? This was a question that was asked of me during a recent tour of the school by Trinity Washington University Master of Arts in Teaching students. My answer was to A: determine if my students are meeting developmental milestones B: determine if they are learning what I am teaching and C: as a tool for self-reflection. If my students are not learning what I am trying to teach them then I need to re-evaluate. Am I teaching to the individual children in the class? Am I teaching to a variety of learning styles? Am I teaching at a developmentally appropriate level that challenges my students yet still allows them to be successful? Another Trinity student asked: How do you know if a student is learning what you are trying to teach them? This is where our method of portfolio assessment comes into play. We use a process of documentation adapted from Focused Portfolios™. We do not test children to see if they have learned what we are trying to teach them but we give them opportunities to use what they have learned. In order to document a child’s growth and development we use a portfolio of anecdotal records and observations, photographs, work samples, and student reflections. You can see the learning being put into practice on a daily basis or see where a child’s needs may require a different approach. You can see growth, accomplishments and understanding that develop over time. It is a record of individual learning that is unique to each child while still looking at recognized developmental milestones.